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In some countries of the world, the less-privileged, the old, low income earners, among other categories of people do not have to necessarily be homeless or live under sub-human conditions in slums, as such people are often beneficiaries of some social housing programmes made available by the government of such countries. An example of such of programme is the social housing, and countries like England, Singapore, Hong Kong and China are known to have effective social housing schemes.
Nigerian leaders, perhaps nursing the dream to help reduce the number of slum dwellers and the general housing deficit in the country, which has been put at 16 million by experts, have at some point deliberated on the Social Housing Bill, which has been in the National Assembly for several months.
However, recent indications have shown that the bill seems to have escaped the notice and attention of the lawmakers, as it has been left languishing on their table, while the entire nations still struggles under the weight of homelessness.
Sadly enough, the neglect still persist despite recent calls by experts and major stakeholders in the built environment seeking to revive the interest of members of the National Assembly on the need to pass the Social Housing Bill into law.
It will be recalled that at a recent event organised by the Estate Surveyors and Valuers Regulatory Body of Nigeria (ESVARBON) in Lagos, estate surveyors had called on the lawmakers to speed up the passage of the bill, as they believed it would go a long way in solving the housing need of the country.
According to the experts, the enactment of the social housing law would compel all tiers of the government to play a key role in housing the poor, the less-privileged as well as the vulnerable, while they added that such a move would go a long way in reducing the estimated 16 million-unit housing deficit in the country.
Buttressing this point in a recent chat with Property and Environment, an expert in the housing sector and an estate surveyor and valuer based in Lagos, Mr Timothy Imoleayo, insisted that “the concept of social housing all over the world was all about the government ensuring the provision of free housing for the disadvantaged and less-privileged section of the populace which n most cases might include orphans, single mothers, the elderly and the unemployed.”
Also according to him, another way the government could deliver social housing is by making free l available to developers and also putting a benchmark on the amount such land can be sold or rented to the public when completed.
However, the minister of Lands and Housing Ms Ama Pepple, has never hidden her belief that the government’s sole duty is not to build housing units for it’s citizenry, rather to provide an enabling environment for the housing sector to thrive, especially through the intervention of the private sector.
Recently, a group called the Social Housing Advocacy Group, Nigeria (SHAGN), lent its voice to this call when it declared that since many Nigerians lived below the $2 per day – an indication of gross poverty in the country – several millions of people would not be able to afford a house of one million naira even with a 25 year, interest free mortgage facility.
The group therefore called on all major stakeholders in the nation’s housing sector, especially the government to see and consider social housing as a social infrastructure and national policy.
“With a short fall of about 16million housing units, and a projection of over N40 trillion to holistically solve this problem, it is not clear thinking to expect that the government in isolation, operating on conventional housing delivery mechanisms, will be able to tackle this problem,” a statement from SHAGN stated.
However, the group was also quick to add that under the Social Housing Programme, government is committed to providing the enabling environment through its contribution of land and infrastructure to deliver social housing for Nigerians.Share